fbpx

FSU plans dadgum special Sunday night to honor coach Bowden

Rule number one of event planning: “Take a big event and make it even bigger.”

If it is possible to make the season-opening home game — Florida State vs. Notre Dame on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. — any bigger than it already is, Florida State will do so.

The Seminoles announced on Wednesday they will honor legendary head coach Bobby Bowden throughout the game. 

  • Seminole fans will notice large banners on the exterior of Doak Campbell Stadium bearing Bobby Bowden’s image and a quote.
  • When they look toward Bobby Bowden Field, they will notice the iconic Bobby hat and signature painted on each of the 25-yard lines opposite the ACC logo.
  • When they look to the south end zone, where the Marching Chiefs once sat before being moved to the north end zone, they’ll notice a large banner with Bobby’s hat and signature.
  • Each player will wear the Bobby Bowden signature on the pad on the back of the Seminoles’ iconic helmet. Fittingly, the gold helmet with spears was designed by Coach Bowden and inspired by Notre Dame’s golden domes.
  • FSU coach Mike Norvell and each of his staff will wear the Bowden hat and signature logo on the sleeve of their polo. 
  • Video highlights of Bobby Bowden’s illustrious career will be shown during the game.

“This is just outstanding!” Ginger Bowden Madden said. “Our family is so appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from the university and from people we know and don’t know. Their compassion has provided us comfort and my mother, brothers and sister appreciate it.”

Bowden Madden, who is the state attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida, wants Seminole fans to know this: “St. Bobby will be up there pulling for the Seminoles against the Irish just like he always has and Daddy is tough to beat on a Sunday.”

The events planned are the first in a series of tributes the university has planned.

“Coach Bowden meant everything to this program,” athletic director David Coburn said. “We have been working on a number of ways to pay tribute to Coach Bowden, some of which are with the main campus and some here in athletics, including these tributes, which we felt we could initiate for the first game.”

It is fitting for a coach who loved the military and military history that the pregame ceremonies will include a flyover featuring four F-16s. One of those jets will be piloted by two-time FSU graduate Joe Feheley in his final official mission. 

And, as I understand it, the Marching Chiefs will play a halftime tribute to Coach Bowden, who loved him some Marching Chiefs. 

“At the last game, the Gator Bowl against Jacksonville, we spelled out his name on the field and we will recreate that formation again on Sunday,” said Professor Music and Director of Bands Patrick Dunnigan, “and we will play amazing grace as our special tribute to Coach.”

Dunnigan said Bowden’s affinity for the Chiefs was organic as Bowden grew up in a family that emphasized music.

“A lot of people don’t know this but Bobby Bowden played the trombone at least up to college,” Dunnigan said. “He told me he played in a Dixieland band in college to earn extra money.”

Like many in Doak Campbell Stadium, Sunday will be special to Dunnigan.

“A lot of coaches know how to build a team but Bobby Bowden knew how to build a program,” Dunnigan said. “He knew how to work with the band, with the boosters, fans… he would come to the Marching Chiefs after games and throw his cap to us. He often spoke at our annual banquet. For all those reasons, and as an old trombone player, yeah his relationship with the Chiefs was special. My colleagues who are band directors across the country have a relationship with their head coaches but this one here was unique.

“For me this will be my 31st season at FSU and I can’t believe he is gone,” Dunnigan said. “You can’t walk into that stadium without feeling his presence.”

“It’s wonderful we are celebrating the life of Coach Bowden in the way we are,” said Sue Hall, Bowden’s long-time assistant. “The Bobby Bowden logos on the field, on helmets and coaches’ polos are very special. And a halftime tribute by the Marching Chiefs is especially meaningful. The Chiefs meant so much to Coach Bowden.”